Oil spill clean up put on hold as Tropical Storm Zeta sweeps through

DELAWARE – The oil clean up process that’s been underway for more than a week along Delaware’s coast and into Maryland is being put on hold as Tropical Storm Zeta approaches. “Our clean up crews will not be on the beaches today or tomorrow just out of an abundance of caution from the winds, rains, and potential lightning event that could be created,” said United States Coast Guard Lieutenant Commander Frederick Pugh.

Lieutenant Commander Pugh says that heavy rains and strong winds could affect the way the oil is spreading. “That will have likely some effect. We expect that the most likely outcome will be that there’s some re-depositing material that we’ve seen thus far on the beaches,” said Lieutenant Commander Pugh.

The spill now spans from Bennett’s Pier Beach in Milford, all the way down to the Ocean City Inlet. Kathy Phillips with the Assateague Coastal Trust says this is a wake up call. Phillips adds that it’s fortunate that the spill wasn’t larger. “It is an eye opener. We could have a spill much bigger and if it happens on the Delaware Bay it is going to get on our beaches down here,” said Phillips.

Phillips says the consequences of the spill if it had been larger could have greatly impacted Assateague island. “Had it been a bigger spill, yes it could’ve been devastating to marine life, to wildlife on the beaches, and even the human life,” said Phillips.

While Phillips tells 47ABC that wildlife and marine life in and around the island probably won’t be impacted very much – she hopes this serves as a reminder of how important it is to care for Delaware and Maryland’s natural resources. “This is a great reminder for everyone that we are just south of the Delaware Bay and every day we have massive oil tankers going past us,” said Phillips.

So far the Coast Guard says they have not ruled out any possible sources of the spill. But they have collected samples from candidate vessels, which are being tested at their lab. The coast guard asks that if you see oily debris – you should report it to either the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control – or the Maryland Department of the Environment. You can reach DNREC at (800) 662-8802. To call MDE, dial (866) 633-4686.

Categories: Delaware, Local News, Maryland